A two-sport standout for Valparaiso in the early 1950s, Don Bielke starred on both the basketball court and on the track and, on February 23, he will be inducted into the Valparaiso University Athletics Hall of Fame.
On the hardwood, he became just the second player in Valpo history to be drafted in the NBA when he was selected by the Fort Wayne Pistons. The 1952-1953 Indiana Collegiate Conference Most Valuable Player, he ranks among the top rebounders in school history.
In two seasons of varsity competition, his 521 career boards still rank 18th on Valpo’s career charts, and his 370 in 1952-1953 are second most on the single season list. Bielke still holds the single season record for rebounds per game, averaging 15.4 that year. During that same season, the team captain tied the school mark with 40 points at Villanova, and finished the campaign averaging 17.7 points per game.
In track and field, Bielke was a Little All-American his sophomore and junior seasons. He set a school record in the shot put and tied the existing record in the 120-yard high hurdles.
Bielke coached at California Concordia College in Oakland, Calif. for 16 years and then became head basketball coach at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where he coached for 10 more seasons. Over his coaching career, he had over 550 wins and was named Coach of the Year several times. Bielke also was a professor in the kinesiology department and upon retirement was given an Honorary Alumni Award from the University.
The Valparaiso University Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Banquet will be held on Saturday, February 23 at 11 a.m. at the Strongbow Inn Banquet Center. The inductees will also be recognized at halftime of both the men’s and women’s basketball games on the same day.